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Not So Sweet Homecoming: Florida Falls to LSU 17-16

The Gator football team had the momentum. They’d stormed back from a 17-3 deficit on two short Lamical Perine touchdown runs and seemed poised to tie the game late in the third quarter.

Shockingly, kicker Eddy Piniero missed the point-after attempt, and Florida remained trailing LSU 17-16.

That’s how the score would end.

LSU came into Gainesville and pulled off the 17-16 upset on Florida’s Homecoming. The win for Ed Orgeron’s team comes just a week after falling in their own Homecoming game against Troy 24-21. It also serves as sweet revenge for the Tigers after Florida won in Baton Rouge 16-10 last season.

Recap

For Jim McElwain and his Gators, the loss comes as a tough pill to swallow.

“For this Gator team it hurts,” McElwain said. “They should hurt. We need to lay this one to rest and come back and prepare for a talented group coming in next week.”

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida had managed to fight back into a game in which they really struggled for the first two quarters and a half. They did it behind a run game that showed up for the fourth week in a row. They relied on it to help out quarterback Feleipe Franks who was a pedestrian 10 of 16 for 108 yards in the game.  Perine and Malik Davis combined for 26 carries, 160 yards, and the two scores. Kadarius Toney pitched in with 52 yards as he got six carries out of the wildcat formation.

Florida’s undoing wasn’t that it couldn’t run the ball. It was that to start, it couldn’t stop LSU from doing it either. And to end, they couldn’t convert on third down (2-for-9 for the game.)

LSU racked up 216 yards on 48 carries on the ground, with 133 of those yards coming in the first half, as the Tigers offense hurt Florida with plays to the outside.

A staple of LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s offense has been constant motioning. That was in full effect, along with plenty of jet sweeps and tosses to the outside early on for the visitors.

“We didn’t fill the alley,” McElwain said. “We didn’t hold the point. Based on the alignment, it looked like they had a little piece of a check. Let’s take it, if not we will go the other way. That’s their staple and we didn’t stop it.”

Of the Tiger gains through the ground, 105 yards came via their wide receivers, who had more of an impact on the ground than the air due to a lackluster performance from LSU quarterback Danny Etling (9-for-16, 125 yards, TD).

On a jet sweep is how LSU opened the scoring with 1:22 left in the first. Russell Gage (6 carries, 52 yards) motioned over towards Etling, took the handoff, and broke it down the left sideline, untouched for the 30-yard score.

Each team knocked through a field goal in the second quarter to make it 10-3 LSU game at halftime.

Comeback Almost Completed…

LSU came out hot to start the second half, as they drove right down the field to go up two scores. The nine-play, 75-yard drive was aided by a big 47-yard completion to DJ Chark. Chark and cornerback Duke Dawson appeared to both come down with the ball, but the tie goes to the receiver, and so LSU moved into the red zone. The drive culminated in a two-yard, play-action pass from Etling to Tory Carter to go up 17-3.

That’s when the Gators appeared to wake up.

Florida turned to the run game to spark a dormant offense that couldn’t find the big play. And it worked.

The Gators racked up 112 yards on the ground in just the third quarter, averaging 8.6 yards a pop. They increased their tempo on offense, and it seemed to put the offensive line and the rest of the unit in a real groove, as it also seemed to wear out the LSU defensive front seven.

“I feel like when we do do it,” Perine said of the up-tempo, “it tires the defense and that’s an advantage for us as an offense.”

The ensuing drive after the Etling touchdown pass, Franks and company marched right down the field in seven plays. Lamical Perine had a big 23-yard run to put the team in Tiger territory. He finished the drive with a two-yard scamper to make it 17-10.

From that point on, the Gator defense held serve, as they seemed to figure out the Tiger offense, and forced a three and out.

Florida then marched right down the field again, punctuated by another score from Perine.

…But Falls Just Short

But Piniero couldn’t convert the PAT and Florida trailed by a point that they could not make up.   It appeared that the holder, punter Johnny Townsend, let the ball slip just a split second before Piniero kicked, thus causing the shanked kick wide left.

The Florida defense hung in, but the Gators failed to convert on opportunities to take the late game lead. The Florida offense never making it past midfield the rest of the way.

“We have a long season ahead of us and I don’t think you can let one or two losses define us,” said Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks. “This one loss right here, you can’t let it define you.”

Next up is a home game against Texas A&M next Saturday.

About Jonathan Acosta

Native New Englander. Follow me on Twitter: @jonacosta_10

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